Category Archives: cohabitation

Marriage offers proven benefits to both men and women

wedding ring morguefileAs fewer Americans are choosing to wed, a common discussion is why committed couples should marry rather than simply live together. Outside of religious reasons, people often focus on the benefits of children with married parents. This is valid, as children and adolescents are shown to have myriad advantages.

However, it’s also important to point out that men and women enjoy a long list of proven benefits when they marry instead of merely cohabitating. Even when a couple does not have children, a marriage protects them and strengthens them as individuals and as a family unit.

Married women generally enjoy the following (as compared with unmarried peers):
*More satisfying relationships with their spouse/partner and children
*Greater emotional happiness with less depression
*More financial resources/less likely to end up in poverty
*Decreased risk of domestic violence, sexual assault, or other violent crimes
*Decreased risk of drug and alcohol abuse
*Better physical health
*Longer life

That’s all well and good for women, but why should men commit to marriage? Many benefits have also been proven for married men as compared with their unmarried peers. These include:
*Improved physical health
*Faster recuperation from illness
*Longer life
*Better emotional wellbeing
*Improved relationships with children
*More satisfying sexual relationship with their wives
*Higher wages and greater employment stability
*Decreased risk of drug and alcohol abuse
*Less likely to commit violent crimes
*Less likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease

If you are considering marriage or have children at that stage, don’t be fooled by cultural trends to avoid marriage because it’s “too risky”. If you think marriage is risky, the above lists should demonstrate that cohabitating or engaging in serial relationships also have risks and downsides.

What scares you the most about marriage? What is the best part of marriage? I would really like to hear your input on these two questions.

Lori Lowe has been married to her husband, Ming, for 19 years. She is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, and infertility, among many others. It’s available at and in various e-book formats here.
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Big wedding = happy marriage…and other recent findings

wedding cake morguefileThe more people who attended your wedding, the better your odds of marital bliss. On the flip side, the more premarital relationships you had before marriage, the lower your odds of being happily married down the road.

These are findings from the University of Virginia-based National Marriage Project report called “Before I do: What Do Premarital Experiences Have to Do with Marital Quality Among Today’s Young Adults.”

While the study doesn’t address causation, here are some of its findings:

• The wedding ceremony had links to marriage quality. Couples who invited a lot of friends and family tended to have happier marriages. Researchers theorized a possible reason is that couples had a larger network of friends and family to help and encourage them. They also suggested that a larger ceremony may reflect a clear decision to commit to the marriage and demonstrate the commitment. Financial resources were not the reason for this association, because they controlled for income and education. While this isn’t reason enough to put yourself in debt, it may help justify inviting all the people who are important to you to your wedding to witness your commitment.

• Individuals who had more experience cohabiting or more sexual partners were not as likely to have high-quality marriages compared with those who had fewer. Researchers speculate that “having more partners provides fodder for comparison and reminds one there are other choices.”

• Couples who had a child before marriage or one on the way at the time of the marriage were less likely to have a formal wedding, and having a child before marriage was associated with lower marital quality.

• Couples who “slide” rather than “decide” their way through major transitions—Including having sex, getting pregnant, living together and marriage—are less likely to have high-quality marriages. Sliding into these decisions, in particular living together, “creates a kind of inertia that makes it difficult to change course,” say researchers. They may end up getting “stuck with” someone they might not have otherwise chosen to marry.

• Premarital education, i.e. relationship education, was linked with higher marital quality. This is great news, because such education is widely available.

The study followed 1,000 participants aged 18 to 34 for five years and controlled for race, ethnicity, years of education, personal income, and religiosity.

Study co-author Galena K. Rhodes concludes “people need to talk about their relationships and make deliberate decisions, and couples who live together should consider relationship education.” Couples should also understand that serial cohabitation may lead them further from eventual marital bliss.

Lori Lowe has been married to her husband, Ming, for 19 years. She is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, and infertility, among many others. It’s available at and in various e-book formats here.
Photo courtesy of

5 Questions to Ask about Marriage Readiness

engaged by Surachi freedigitalphotos.netIf you ask 10 people about what issues are most important in being ready for marriage, you will get 10 answers. That being said, some issues/questions will come up more frequently. Analyzing your motivations and timing for marriage is definitely worth your time and attention. Author Grace Pamer was nice enough to offer her take on 5 questions you should ask yourself if you are considering marriage (below). I would suggest there are other issues which you already know are key to marriage–things like similar values, discussing whether you want to have children, determining if you have a similar vision for life, and things of this sort.

While some couples want to be more settled before marriage (in career, education, financially, etc.), others are more willing to figure out the journey together. My husband was hoping to have his ideal job before we got engaged, but after five years of dating I was ready for commitment. He decided to take a “leap of faith” as he called it, which paid off when he received an offer for his perfect job while we were on our honeymoon.

While some of these issues depend on your situation, many of Grace’s questions I would say are mandatory–things like monogamy and readiness for commitment. But I don’t want to give away all the secrets, so without further ado, here is Grace’s guest post:

5 Questions to Ask Yourself if You are Considering Marriage

by Grace Pamer

It’s a sad fact, but today too many people are no longer strangers to the concept of divorce. For some, it could have been their own parents who divorced when they were young. Others may have stood up at a best friend’s wedding, only to see the relationship dissolve a few years later. The point is that dissolution of marriage is not a rare occurrence today – it can leave many individuals questioning if they are truly ready for this commitment, even when deeply in love with their partners.

The first step to warming those cold feet is to recognize that getting married has nothing to do with statistics or the relationship health of your friends and family. Being ready for marriage comes down to only one thing – you. It is an inward journey you must take, having nothing to do with the external world or experiences of others.

The following points are five ways I believe you will know if you are ready for marriage:

1. Are You Ready For A Monogamous Relationship?

One thing that is expected from marriage is monogamy. Many people don’t commit, at least not until later in life, because they feel they aren’t ready to make such a commitment for the rest of their lives.

People who are ready for marriage want a special someone to share their lives with. They don’t view monogamy as a sacrifice – they are happy and secure with the idea of having a perfect lover and a friend, all in one person, until death do they part.

2. Are Large Ambitions And Goals Met?

Loving couples can happily endure anything, so this doesn’t imply that life stops once you are married. But if you have a large list of desires you wish to accomplish before saying “I do” it is important to acknowledge that.

Examples would be going through medical school, spending a year abroad or any other large time commitment that could start a marriage off on the wrong foot. Again, couples can accomplish any of these things together. But if you have a large list of independent goals you wish to accomplish solo, then take time to be certain now is the right time to be married.

3. Are You Ready For Commitment?

Healthy couples aren’t threatened when one partner spends time with other friends and family, as long as time is also devoted to the relationship as well. But being married does involve more time with one person. Never being home, coming home late after your spouse is in bed each night – these things will take a toll.

Commitment isn’t a bad word. It is about love and respect for your lover and friend. Building a life together, sharing a home – these are good things with the right person. However, if you find it hard to imagine not being out every evening, spending weekends with friends or being accountable to another person, then this might not be the right time to consider marriage.

4. Do You Feel External Pressure?

When you think of marriage, if there is any hint of pressure to say, “I do,” you need to take time and acknowledge that feeling. When considering marriage, pressure can come in many forms. One in particular could be media’s influence, as we are constantly bombarded with marriage proposal stories and news of the latest Hollywood engagement.

Your own age might make you feel like a clock is ticking and time is running out. Family or friends might be pressuring you to walk down the aisle. You may have been with your lover a very long time, feeling obligated to move on to the next step. None of the above should be considered reasons to get married. There shouldn’t be any feeling of pressure involved in your decision, only enthusiasm and excitement about marrying your best friend.

5. Is It Based On Love Or Need?

The final step in analyzing if you are ready for marriage is the most difficult one – being brutally honest with yourself. Many people get married for the wrong reasons, those reasons being buried deep inside their own personalities and underlying fears.

If your self-esteem is low, you fear being alone later in life, seek validation and self-worth from others or cannot stand spending time with just yourself, these issues must be addressed before you can be ready for marriage. A healthy relationship requires two healthy individuals, ones who both contribute to the marriage. Depending on another to validate your worth cannot sustain a relationship over time.

Being ready for marriage entails wanting to share your life with someone you love – it isn’t about needing someone to give your life merit.

About the author:

Grace Pamer is a work from home mom and author of Romance Never Dies, which provides a resource for all those seeking romantic ideas and inspiration whether for a date, a marriage proposal or in a long term relationship. As featured in,,, and many more.


Thanks, Grace, for the guest post. Readers, what question do you feel are most important to ask yourself before getting married?

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at and in all e-book formats at

Photo by Surachai courtesy of

More Couples are Sliding into Cohabitation

According to the New York Times, cohabitation in the U.S. has increased by more than 1,500 percent in the last 50 years. While many people still have moral and/or religious issues with cohabitation, more than half of all marriages are now preceded by living together. If you are thinking about whether cohabitation is feasible for you (i.e., saving money while you decide if your partner is marriage material), read “The Downside of Cohabitation Before Marriage” from The New York Times’ opinion pages by Meg Jay. Despite the title, she is not really against the idea of cohabitation; she just offers an array of warnings. She discusses “the cohabitation effect” as well as researchers’ findings that cohabiting partners often have differing, unspoken agendas. She touches on research that shows a strong strong correlation between cohabitation before marriage and lower marital satisfaction.  Read on for more insights into this piece from our guest contributor. Breakups may also involve division of substantial assets like homes. That’s where today’s contributor comes in.

Today’s guest post by Indianapolis realtor and relocation expert (and friend of mine!), Kristie Smith. Kristie is always on the front edge of trends, and she has found the need to provide more than the usual housing expertise to her clients. While in the past, most buyers were either single or married, today’s realtors need to be prepared to sell homes to the growing number of cohabitating partners who may or may not understand the legal implications of such a decision. When I found this article on her blog, I thought many of you would be interested in reading her insights.  And if not, maybe you’ll like the clip from Mad Men. By the way, Kristie is happily married and resides in Indianapolis. She’s a long-time supporter of Marriage Gems and of my book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss. Thanks, Kristie!

Guest post by Kristie Smith

Kristie Smith

If you caught the April 29 episode of Mad Men, in one of the climatic scenes, Peggy’s very Catholic mother admonishes her daughter after Peggy announces that she’s moving in with her boyfriend, Abe. “You are selling yourself short,” Mrs. Olsen says, explaining her anger. “This boy, he will use you for practice until he decides to get married and have a family. And he will, believe me.” Watch the first two minutes of the clip below for an inside look at this story line!

The show takes place in 1965, so Mrs. Olsen’s reaction may seem quite old-fashioned when viewed through the lens of today’s “anything goes” culture. But was Peggy’s mom on to something?

A recent must-read column in the New York Times suggests that she was. According to the article, while two-thirds of 20-somethings say that moving in together is a good way to test the waters before marriage, and therefore avoid divorce, research shows that couples who live together before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) “tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not.”

Why is this? Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist and author of the column, describes a phenomenon called “sliding before deciding.” You’re together all the time, you sleep over frequently and then voila—you’re living together, more for reasons of convenience and finance than real commitment. And once this arrangement begins, it’s hard to get out of, especially if you buy furniture, a pet or even a home together. Jay compares it to opting in for a credit card with zero percent interest for the first year. After 12 months, the interest shoots up to 23 percent; you haven’t paid off the balance and, whoa—you’re locked in.

I do tend to be of the conservative persuasion, like Mrs. Olsen. In addition to the social implications of the living-together-before-marriage trend, which I find fascinating, I of course am interested in the real estate implications. After all, nearly 40 percent of all closings that I attend are for non-traditional buyers, and statistics show that more than eight percent of all owner-occupied homes in the U.S. are owned by unmarried couples.

Before you get into what could turn out to be a bad situation (some say a breakup between two unmarried people who own property together can be worse than a divorce), here are some big issues you should take into consideration:

  • What if you buy a house together and you eventually break up? This is a significant consideration given that almost half of unmarried couples break up within five years, and unmarried couples do not have the benefit of legal protections that married couples enjoy. To protect yourself, it’s of utmost importance to put the answer to this question in writing. Work with an attorney to draw up a Home Sharing Agreement, which will spell out your individual rights and responsibilities with respect to the property as you purchase your new home and on an ongoing basis.
  • What if one of us doesn’t want to sell the home after a break up? If there is no Home Sharing Agreement and you break up, you can mutually decide what happens to the home. If the house has no mortgage, then one party can simply sign a quit-claim deed and remove all rights to the home. This makes sense if the home has little or no equity. However, if there is a mortgage on the property in both names, you cannot simply quit-claim your interest and walk away. That mortgage and debt impact will influence your credit (and buying potential) until the home is eventually sold or refinanced. Therefore, it’s critical that if a partner is keeping the house, he MUST refinance the loan into just his name. If the remaining partner cannot get approved for the loan solo, then the property must be sold to protect the displaced mate’s credit and financial responsibility for the home.
  • What if you move in to a home that your partner already owns and you then break up? It doesn’t matter how much money you put toward maintenance, improvements and other expenses. The home is in your partner’s name, which means you will have no legal recourse should you break up.
  • What if one person owns the house and there is a death? Because of this possibility, it’s important to write the deed in both of the couple’s names with “rights of survivorship,” even if only one person is financially responsible on the mortgage.  If the title is NOT set up this way, the house will go to the next of kin of the “owner.”

Although many unmarried couples slip into their living arrangements because of convenience, living together brings up all kinds of legal considerations, especially when an unmarried couple buys a home together.  Although you may think that you don’t need a piece of paper to prove your love, you should at the very least have a home sharing agreement to protect your interests. Marriage shouldn’t be entered into lightly, and neither should living together. To echo Peggy’s mom, don’t sell yourself short.


Thanks to Kristie for sharing her insights. You can reach Kristie at

Lori Lowe, founder of Marriage Gems, is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available  at and in all e-book formats at